In our 6th Round Table event, we discussed - how festivals impact community building? And what community builders have done so far in terms of celebrating a community festival. Nipun Goyal - Founder & CEO of LikeMinds, hosted the event. LikeMinds is the organization that helps businesses to power very quick community features into their existing apps.
And one of the initiatives that LikeMinds is powering is CommunityHood. It is the community side of the organization. We feel that while we are a SaaS platform, it's very very important to have something which is community-led in the industry. And we don't see a lot of people doing that at the scale it should be.
Also, if you want to upskill yourself as a community builder, then join Community Hood today. As part of our online community, you'll get access to various exclusive learning resources!
Our 6th Round Table Discussion was led by our 6 volunteer leaders:
In this blog, we'll talk about the following topics:
... And much more!
So, let's start!
There is a very very strong correlation between festivals and communities. Not only in online communities, but we've also seen all that happening offline. Generally, there are 3 strong correlations between festivals in offline communities and rituals in online communities.
If you are running a learning community, it is important to break the monotony of educational events. And a great way to do so is by hosting certain informal events which are themed around the festivals. It creates a human connection that is beyond the common goal of the community.
So, for example: In CommunityHood, we all try to learn community building. But for our pre-Holi networking event, we didn't talk about community building a lot. Instead, we just played games with each other and had a fun time.
So, there are 7 structural aspects of festivals that can be applied to community meet-ups:
When applied to community building, these structural aspects of festivals impact community building in the following ways:
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How are rituals similar to festivals?
If you see, festivals themselves are a kind of ritual.
Generally, there are 2 sides:
The contribution is around some of the shared interests that can be triggered for a ritual. So, a very common ritual that we have in CommunityHood is these Round Tables. And the shared interest in learning and exchanging knowledge for certain topics on community building. It's also important that people who want to learn new things improve in that zeal.
Ritual Ingredients: Community Action/Event
This is followed by collective enthusiasm that helps in yielding outcomes.
The outcome is that belonging increases, it gives you a feeling of community. We often hear our volunteers saying, "You know, we have to do it for the collective good of this industry." And that solidarity comes because we meet every two weeks. In these pre-event catch-ups we discuss what topics can we host, and how can we host better?
And in the process, we are all learning. So, rituals really help that.
Ritual Outcomes: Community Solidarity
Building A Community: Impact Of Festivals On Community Building
Incorporate rituals of traditional festivals suitable for the shared interest in your gathering. Below are a few examples:
You can also start new innovative rituals specific to your community:
Another good way of celebrating community festivals is by giving merchandise & giveaways. And nothing can be better if they are inspired by the festivals themselves. For example:
Celebrating these community festivals with your community members also plays an important role in connecting members. They connect members by contributing to the following aspect of community building:
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Community festivals fall under 3 broad categories given below:
And based on the category to which these community festivals belong, you can host fun activities. It is important to host fun activities if you want to engage the community. Below are a few community festival ideas that you can use for hosting your next online community festival:
And here are some community festival ideas for celebrating Holi virtually. You can take inspiration from these community festival ideas and plan similar events for other religious community festivals:
And below are some super cool and fun ways in which people celebrate community festivals around the world. Check them out and take some inspiration!
1. Cocktail Mixtures For A Community Festival Celebration And As A Team Building Exercise
The concept of this event takes inspiration from a common real-life situation. A situation where one is in a conference or a meeting and it's time for a tea break. And during the tea break, a guy from Zomato or Swiggy rings your doorbell. And you get these snacks and tea for your break time. So, Ashna replicated the same, who was a member of the table that was led by Vineet.
In Vineet's words, "What they did to celebrate the community event, they sent the cocktail mixtures out to the members. And at that point in time when they were part of the Zoom conversation, everybody was opening up the mixture. And that was a fun team-building exercise." So, from Vineet's table, a lot of community festival ideas around food and gifting came.
2. Celebrating Ramadan The Facebook Meta Search Way!
So, internally at Facebook Meta Search, members do really big stuff for Ramadan every year. Just like Christmas, Ramadan is probably one of the most celebrated community festivals or the holidays, globally. So, for some of these big holidays, Facebook‚Äôs sales teams lead into a narrative of community, and community supporting the community.
The teams at Facebook work with various communities to launch numerous individual campaigns. This includes the Ramadan watch content of prayers broadcasted from Saudi Arabia. It also includes deals with brands brought to promote certain advertisements. And literally everything in between.
Basically, all this is for mutual aids support. Avani, an employee at Facebook Meta Search says, "I thought that it was seamlessly done. And was done across a global scale. For a company like Facebook that has 5 heads and 10k arms, that is really unprecedented. And each year it has just gotten bigger and bigger and more fun."
So, she really really appreciates watching Facebook organize it. She told us that the work starts 9 months in advance by some of the teams for a community festival celebration like this. In 2022, Avani had a portfolio of faith-based partners which included churches, masjids, temples, etc. So, these faith-based partners also got involved in some of the campaigns. They promoted these campaigns by posting things in their communities and prompting people.
In Avani's words, "So, that level of global engagement is really cool and interesting to see from the inside. Like being on the inside. Because we see what‚Äôs happening on the platform. Unlike normal people, I got to see it from the inside, which is very cool."
3. Celebrating The Love For Mushrooms - The Telluride Mushroom Festival
Jaishid, a member from the table led by Prateeksha, shared about a community festival that takes place to celebrate mushrooms. He also provided suggestions on how we can take inspiration from it and learn how to plan a community festival. So, it's an international community festival called the Telluride Mushroom Festival. It's not around any religious holiday. It's just to bring people together who are from around the country in the USA who love mushrooms.
Jaishid explains, "While they are there for the next couple of days, basically, they celebrate mushrooms in a bunch of different ways. And one of the most interesting ways is that they have a fancy dress competition where adults come dressed as different mushrooms. And people vote for them."
He also tells that apart from that, they have really interactive activities, where they all go forging into the forest together. They then gather different mushrooms and come back. After that, expert chefs teach them how to cook mushrooms. And then following that they have lectures and documentaries for people to watch.
Jaishid adds, "So, basically just 3-4 days around mushrooms and people who love mushrooms. So you're happy to be there. And they explore this in different artistic and sensory ways. Like through eating it, watching people dressed up, or making dice from different mushrooms, and different workshops."
So, a lot of activities centered around mushrooms. And as for the online community festivals, we can take inspiration and could possibly have some competitions. The community managers can ask members to dress up as an avatar or something related to the community festival. We can also give everybody a bunch of tools that have activities to make the whole event more interactive.
4. Celebrating The 36th Birthday With 36 Pizzas, How Cool Is That?
Nirav Chahwala was one of our volunteer leads for this Round Table. And he shared a community festival celebration idea that one of his mentors did. One of his mentors wanted to celebrate his 36th birthday with his learning community and he used tech quite amazingly in it. He gave an Excel sheet to the students who were attending the class at that particular time in the community. And then he asked all the students to write a number.
They had one app which readily gives one lucky number within 3 seconds of rolling the dice. So, because it was his 36th birthday, he gave 36 pizzas from Domino's to 36 lucky students. And the cool part is that he got them delivered to their houses at the same time. All the students received their pizza at 1 PM - the time when the class was supposed to end.
Wondering how did the mentor get all the pizzas delivered at the same time?
He partnered with Domino's and finalized only one type of pizza, which was the Margherita. So, everything was pre-planned and pre-ordered. The number and the address were to be entered in that form so that once you fill that form, the Excel database is already ready. Then one of the Community Managers of that particular zone ordered the pizza online from Domino's.
5. Celebrating Community Festivals Using Music And Arts
This suggestion came from the table that was headed by Manohar. The suggestion was around using music and arts. Manohar said that art and music can be tapped more in community programming - the community activation that we do. Sharanya from his table shared this very beautiful example from the town of Mysuru. In the city of Mysuru, Dussehra is celebrated in different phases, it is a big community festival there.
Manohar explains, "The local government body and organizers basically come up with spaces where people can sing. So, you can basically go to the stage and start singing. And there is no hesitation, there is no barrier." It‚'s a truly community-driven initiative.
Sharanya also shared that one of the spaces is a place where people don't need any invitation or permission. They can just go onto the stage and start singing. Some of these spaces also have awards!
These awards are designed a little differently. And there are different awards for all the organizers who do Dussehra decorations. In Manohar's words, "So, these organizers receive different kinds of awards. And that becomes a community activity because people work towards those awards to get them."
In an online context, there can be various extrapolations of it. Like during Diwali, even holding a diya together and then clicking a picture can create a sense of community amongst the members. People can also try other very simple rituals like dressing up or choosing a virtual background that is inspired by these community festivals.
6. Community Chain Of Books And Icons - A Continuous Celebration!
This idea also came from Manohar's table and was shared by Sharanya. This one is called a community chain of books and icons, which is a little elaborate plan. So, 5-6 years back, on WhatsApp, people were receiving forwards of sending certain books to a particular address. And not necessarily knowing that you will also receive a book in return.
Manohar tells, "And she sent a book to somebody and 90 days later, she received a book. And she was confused that I didn't order it, where did this come from? She almost forgot that she has sent a book too to somebody else. So, this can be connected to the 6 degrees of connection and other things."
But, if you do a carry forward activity, where one member sends one thing to somebody else, then that way they will get connected with each other. And that would be a powerful way of peer interaction. In terms of tactics, digital assets inspired by the community festival, and delivered in a way that they are very shareable, is the most important part.
Manohar says, "If you create something very complex, very difficult. Which people cannot participate in. It might be good aesthetically, but it may not drive engagement for you. So, create digital assets which are shareable by members." And that my friends, is indeed a golden piece of advice from him.
7. Using Books To Educate And Celebrate Community Festivals In A Kids' Community
Vidya, from the table led by Sourav, is the Founder of a company called Apicbook. So, in her community, Vidya invites kids to let them know what is the importance of community festivals. And she also teaches them how are they a part of our life? She believes that teaching children about community festivals at the beginning of their early years is important. It gives them a better understanding of what we do on community festivals or why we celebrate every occasion.
For example: If it's Diwali, children need to understand things like why we have sweets or what is the best part of Diwali? So, to give them a better understanding of all these questions, she created a story around these community festivals. In these books, the kids themselves are the heroes of the story. And that is the kind of work that she has been doing to educate children. This also helps them celebrate community festivals in a meaningful way.
So, she wrote a book that explains why do we celebrate Diwali? The book is called - Hanuman And The Little Boy: A Diwali Adventure. In this book, she has portrayed the kid as the hero. And he asks questions like, "Why do we celebrate Diwali?". And 'Why are you in the kitchen all day?" to his mom. And then they have a conversation where she explains and answers such questions.
Vidya has also made use of concepts like time travel. As part of this concept, the kid travels with all the mighty characters. And after traveling back in time, the kid has a conversation with the Hanuman. That conversation provides the kid with a better understanding of the community festival. She has also used subtle images to go with the text in her books.
The kids are shown having a regular chat with mighty characters like Rama. They talk about things like why do we celebrate Diwali? So, this is the concept of one of her books. She has similar books for other community festivals and celebrations also. Thes festivals include Sankranti, Christmas, and Birthday. And this is a unique concept because kids can get these books customized for their names!
This way, they themselves become the heroes of that very book. And it piques their interest in understanding the value of community festivals. And we feel it is a great way to help children celebrate community festivals in a meaningful way.
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